tv [untitled] May 29, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
it didn't require the destruction of stem cell. i've presented it to law schools. but the interesting thing when i presented at schools of medicine, departmentses s oese medicine is the whispered approval afterwards. it's not the kind of thing that can be expressed openly. there can't be an open expression of anything against the orthodoxy. one can imagine the ultimate expression of dissent, an assertion of a conscientious objection. such an objection becomes progressively more difficult in such an environment. i've become an adviser to residents from other institutions in ob-gyn.
understand precedented threats to american religious freedoms or right of conscious? absolutely. in many cases, something that has occurred as a sudden thrust in this mandate but because we're reaching a crescendo of a long process, a long extreme unyielding process. and so those are my brief comments. i'm pass the podium on to the next. thank you.
>> notice how he dodged the salt and water question. our next guest as far as i know is not a member of the salt and water club or an aficionado of scotch and water. richard landry is, however, and has been quarter century the president of the ethics and religious liberty committee of the southern baptist convention of the united states. and in that capacity and over those 24 or 25 years, richard has become a fixture of the public discussion of issues concerns religious liberty. even perhaps more general ly discussion about the morally laiden issues. he's become almost an important public resource. and a highly visible and highly influential spokesperson. he's been since 2001 on the united states commission on international religious freedom.
and in a way embodied what this conference is around. he's certainly done his share of participating academic con fabs such as this one, but he's also a doer, and was until recently an interim pastor at the red bank church in chattanooga, tennessee. this is a man who's accomplished and a public resource and a pastor, he's also a man who holds a b.a. from princeton and from oxford. my guess is that nobody else besides richard lands holds degrees from princeton and oxford but also as he does a master december gree from the new orleans baptist theological seminary. richard?
>> thank you. this sunday will be my last sunday as the interim pastor. they have a new pastor and they're very excited about it. sometimes people ask me, you preach every sunday in addition to everything else you do? i said that's the last thing i would give up. the thing i look forward to the most every week and the thing i find the most fulfilling every week is preaching to the same people and being in touch with a local body of christ. and that leads me to say i'm neither a physician nor a lawyer. i'm a baptist minister and an ethicist. and i do think there are unprecedented threats to our religious freedoms. 20 years ago, i was in debates with people of my own dmon nation and in american christianity in general who were concerned about what they say as threats to the establishment clause.
i said i'm sorry, i don't see any significant threat to the establishment clause in my li lifeti lifetime. but i do see rising threats to the preexercise clause from a growing secularism that is influencing the opinion-making segments of our society and is increasingly intolerant of wrjs expression. i'm reminded as i look at the landscape of america of the famous comment by peter berger when he was told there was a worldwide research done to dis ko discover the degree of religious practice around the world. when they finished tabulating all the data, they found the most religious country in the
world was india. and the least religious country in the world was sweden. and when peter berger was told the results he said american was a nation of indians ruled by a nation of swedes. that was not as true as it was when that was first said, but it's still true to a significant degree. when we hear the word us pres t unprecedented, i can think of no other time in the history of the united states when the justice department would go before the supreme court of the united states and make an argument as it did in the taber case that there are no particular and special protections for religion in the first attemmendment and churches and religious affiliations have no more
protections an a country club. john roberts, who is really developing a reputation for succinct and pithy remarks said in his opinion i find the administration's position to be remarkable, considering the fact that religion is mentioned twice in the first amendment. that they would find no particular and special regular in addition of religious beliefs. and if you look at the history of the first amendment, the first amendment is there to protect religious freedom and freedom of conscious. the other freedoms are there to help protect freedom of conscious. it's the first freedom. and as late as 1944 when the supreme court in the middle of world war ii was protecting the right of a religious objection to pledge allegiance to the flag, the freedom of conscious was the north star of american
freedom. i would long for the court to be reproduced today. but the administration's position was so extreme that it lost 9-0. do you realize how difficult it is to get our supreme court to agree on anything? but they objected in a 9-0 decision. in nashville where i live, one of our finer universities has gone amuck. it's like alice through the looking glass. christian organizations on campus cannot require that the leaders of their organizations can adhere to the tenants of the faith.
this shows either a hostility to religious freedom or a complete ignorance of the first amendment. essentially there are not any other alternatives. this debate is not about contraception, it's about coercion. it's not about catholics. it's about conscious. it's about religious freedom, not reproductive freedom. this is about principle, not pelvic politics. make no mistake about it, this is only incidentally about reproductive freedom. it's about religious organizations to have the free sdom to practice their faith. we believe as americans that every human being has a god given right of freedom of faith
and conscious. due to our forefathers persecutions, persistence and insistence, this freedom is acknowledged and recognized in the first amendment to the constitution of the united states. the free exercise of religion goes well beyond the mere freedom of worship concept so often ballyhooed by secularists today in our culture. for them, freedom of worship is restricted to church and home. we have cases all the time of zoning commissions who can try to restrict how many people a couple can have in their home for a bible study because it causes traffic congestion. free exercise of religion is far more robust and includes the right to share one's faith and to live out the limits of one faith in the social and economic spears.
in other words, the freedom to exercise or act and the right not to be coerced. as cardinal dolan said in his 22nd letter, the obama administration has reduced the exercise to a privilege as a mere exemption from an all-encompassing extreme form of secularism. insdeed, i think i can make an argument that this extreme secular contest violates not only the first amendment's free exercise clause but the establishment clause as well. when the federal government asserts the right to universally
mandate action, trample religious exemptions and then grant exemptions to whom it so chooses, the government is behaving perilously like a secular theocracy granting a theological indulgence to a chosen few. roger williams, the 17th century baptist minister and founder of what is now rhode island said man has no powers to make laws to bind conscious and went on to say that forcing a person's conscious was rape of the soul. thomas jefferson, chief drafter of the declaration of independence and our nation's first president would argue in 1779 during a campaign that to compel a man for the pop gags of
opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical. when our country was in perhaps its greatest peril ever in 1775, when an invasion fleet of 200 ships and 35,000 troops, the largest invasion fleet left england to reconquer these colonies, enevery able-bodied man was needed, the continental congreganted a right of conscientious objection to those baravians and quakers who believed for religious convictions that violence was always wrong. from ur beginning, this has been the north store of american exceptionalism. a belief that no one has the
right to coercively interfere with a relationship between his or her god and to try to do so is soul rape. there are three mega threats to our freedom. one is around the sanctity of every human life, you know? the idea that we're all endowed by our creator with certain unailable rights. and among these is the right to life. whether we're noor mall or not, whether we're terminally ill or not, whether we've been born yet or not. if we're a human being, we have a right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. and then secondly, the basic foundational unit of american society, of human society, the family. and then third, religious
freedom. i believe we can win this fight to defend our rights as they were given down to us. but we must all be willing to stand up and tell the government no. the government does no the have the ultimate authority over people of safe. that's one reason why seculars don't like people of faith. because the ultimate authority for us is not the state. we render under caesar the things that are caesar's. we render under god the things that are god. ultimate allegiance belongs to our god as understood by our conscious. thank you. >> thank you, richard. the next person to speak will follow me to the podium. the next speaker is accurately described as the public safe of
orthodox judaism in washington. it's accurate, but not complete. he's the public face of orthodox judaism in the united states. being a public faith does not pay well, so he draws a paycheck by working as the executive director of public policy for the union of orthodox jewish congregation. educated at harvard law school, began a successful career as an attorney in manhattan at paul weiss law firm. but moved into what we should call public policy since then and has become a real fixture, public resource on all matters affecting religious liberty and moral issues of public policy. our next speaker is nathan diamond. and he's become generally respected go-to person of public face and public voice of orthodox judaism. all that is true. but i think that it's worth adding something that doesn't
quite appear. i think his reputation is as someone who's not only a talker but a doer. his reputation for what i think we should call nonpartisan contributions to this highly contentious area of public debate, his reputation is sterling. he's a person who's called upon, divided by republican and democrat alike, serves on the faith council and really taken to be neither liberal nor conservative, neither democrat ignore republican. but jewish. nathan. [ applause ] >> thank you for that very kind introduction, professor bradley. i also want to add my congratulations to brian and ed on this wonderful conference and a wonderful project.
king solomon famously wrote, there's nothing new under the sun and i suppose i'm here to counter the thesis of our title, unprecedented threat that for better or for worse, the threat to liberty that we face, and i'm here to tell you that they're not unprecedented. but i'm not saying that to comfort you. they are not unprecedented, but they have the current controversies, the recent controversies have given them more visibility. what do i mean? i am an attorney by training. the other confession that i'm make, catholics present, is that my day job is as a lobbiest. i know that's a dirty word, but that's what i do on behalf of the community and the issues we care about. that gives me a perspective on what's been going on in the trenches, particularly in the legislative arena, which i think is instructive in setting the
context for the threats that we face today through religious liberty. and i want to take us back to 1990 when the supreme court handed down handed down its decision in employment division versus smith. and that opinion by justice scalia, the court threw out the notion of free exercise of religion that religious liberty advocates thought prevailed for many, many years. that -- before then, the prevailing understanding was that in order for a government law that was generally neutral, not targeted at religion in any way but a neutral law in order for it to burden the free exercise of religion and not be struck down as an infringement had to be -- the government had to show it was serving a compelling state interest and that the means it was serving that interest were the least restrictive upon religious liberty. in that case, the issue at hand
was whether native americans could be using paote as part of their religious worship services. could the government restrict that in the service of the broader principle of outlawing -- of outlawing hallucinogenic drug use, et cetera, et cetera. what happened in that case under the patent of justice scalia was the compelling state interest least restrictive means standard was thrown out. and the standard was reduced for the protection of free exercise. if you had a general law of neutral advocablity that wasn't to discriminate against religious freedom. if the government had a rational basis, that would be sufficient. so what was the reaction? so the reaction was that a broad coalition stretching from the far left to the far right gathered together, worked with bipartisan champions in
congress, in the senate. ted kennedy and oren hatch to move a piece of legislation called the religious freedom restoration act which passed in 1993 overwhelm league and the congress sought to legislatively reinstate the compelling interest least restrictive means standard. a few years later, the supreme court gets to say thank you congress. we get the last word. in 1997, it strikes down the religious freedom restoration act, at least so far as it applies to state laws. in the city of bernie versus flores case. in one of its early rehnquist court era decisions designed to contract federal power -- federal congressional power to some degree with regard to the states. so the right/left coalition gets back together. okay. the supreme court struck down rifra. let's get back together and write a new law which we can pass through congress which will try to tailor to the new
principles, the supreme court put forward in the bernie case. well, then the fishers began to become evident. the coalition, again, stretching from the acl tou the southern baptist convention, the reform jewish denominations, orthodox jewish community, everybody in between, secular and multifaith. started designing a statute. would have been called the religious liberty protection. everything needs a cumbersome acronym. but this again would have been a broad reinstatement of a standard. across all kinds of cases, across all kinds of issues, which t would have sought to reinstate the standard of the government can only infringe upon religion when it's serving a compelling interest and is doing it in the least restrictive means possible. then the coalition fractured. and the coalition principally fractioned because by this point in the late 1990s, the -- a
number of folks who were -- organizations who advocate for women's rights and for gay rights in particular saw a broad standard like that as being counterproductive to the agenda they were pursuing. if you had a broad standard in which government laws had to overcome this compelling interest and least restrictive means test that that would inhibit if not prevent, various initiatives put forward by the women's advocacy groups and gay rights advocacy groups from going forward. and as their power mounted politically, that resulted in the congress which had previously, again, passed the religious freedom restoration act overwhelmingly. that caused the support in congress to begin to wayne. and, in fact, the broad bill, the religious liberty protection act was able to be passed
through the house of representatives by a majority vote. but then it stalled coming over to the senate because of these political tensions. to fast forward to the end of this chapter, the coalition had to go back to the drawing board and the statute that was passed has a more unfortunate acronym, is called the religious land use and institutionalized persons act. and only reinstates the compelling governmental interest standard, least restrictive means standard with regard to two categories of laws. land use, which dr. land referred to because there was a lengthy -- there's been a lengthy unfortunate pat northern this country where zoning and land use laws have been used in a very aggressive and discriminatory fashion against houses of worship. now if you want to use a land use statute, a zoning statute to try to prevent a church or synagogue from coming into your community you have to meet this compel interesting test and
institutionalized persons, people who are incarcerated or institutionalized, they have unique -- they have had a unique set of issues with regard to some amount of religious accommodation as well. but the coalition could not hold to reinstate the principle that across all kinds of categories, across all kinds of issues, health care, conscience, employment, so on and so forth, they could not hold that coalition together. could not hold that bipartisan support together to reassert that standard by the time we reached the year 2000. president clinton signed the more restricted land use and institutionalized persons act into law in late 2000 before he left office. this pattern can also be seen in another piece of legislation in the employment context which we worked on for many years. started with a broad coalition to protect religious people in the workplace. for many years we were pursuing
the workplace of religious freedom act which would have amended the civil rights act of 1964 and reasserted a high level of protection for people of faith in the workplace. not mandate bud certainly encouraged and prodded their employers to accommodate their religious needs in the workplace so that religious individuals who have scheduling needs in order to observe religious holidays could be able to have their schedules shifted to accommodate their holiday schedules. so that people that need to wear religious clothing, whether it's a skull cap or modest dress or head scarf or turban can wear that in the workplace. whether it's pharmacists or lawyers who don't want to work on death penalty cases or anybody else in between if they had a contentious objection. they couldn't sbuk their boss and say i have a religious objection, therefore you need to let me off with no consideration whatsoever but it did tilt it in
favor of accommodation. again, this was propounded by a -- on a bipartisan basis. our league sponsors the united states senate where john kerry and rick santorum. you didn't see those two coming together that often. we had again support from left to right across the denominations. but it was again stymied by the same groups that i identified before. by progressive women's advocacy groups who didn't want to see any accommodation for pharmacists in the pharmacies. they did not want to entertain the notion that a pharmacist could say, i'm sorry. i don't want to dispense morning after pills, it's against my conscience. the law would have provided in this situation that the woman is still entitled under the law to get that prescription. so another pharmacist on duty would have provided it, filling the prescription. so there wouldn't have been any loss in that particular scenario. but the conscience of the objector would have been
protected. that was not acceptable. and there were similar hypothetical or even real world objections from the gay rights community as well. if you are a licensed clerk in the city of boston and you don't want to issue licenses for same-sex marriage couples, you'd rather someone else at the licensing desk do it, the couple can still get their license but your conscience is protected. that was not acceptable. and so this piece of lelidgeuous liberty legislation was also stymied and stalled because of these tensions. and the last example i want to give is what happened with regard to -- not yet enacted but one of the priorities of the gay rights community and civil rights community generally is called the employment nondiscrimination act which would ban employment discrimination in the private sector on the basis of sexual orientation. before 2006, when that legislation was introduced year after year, it contained a very cl